Age alone can be a risk factor for a heart attack because the condition is more likely to affect men who are 45 years of age or older and women 55 years of age or older, according to Mayo Clinic. Additional risk factors for people who are over 50 include high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels.
Individuals over age 50 who have a family history of heart attack are at an increased risk, explains Mayo Clinic. Lifestyle factors such as smoking increase the risk of a heart attack as well as stress, illegal drug and tobacco use, and obesity. People over age 50 who have diabetes are at risk for a heart attack, especially when blood sugar levels are not controlled. Certain medical conditions such as an autoimmune condition or preeclampsia also pose a risk for heart attacks.
Over time, high blood pressure can damage arteries and put people over age 50 at more risk for a heart attack, according to Mayo Clinic. High blood pressure, combined with lifestyle habits such as smoking and obesity, further increases the risk of a heart attack. High blood cholesterol also poses a risk, as the bad cholesterol in the body narrows the arteries.
People over age 50 who lead an inactive lifestyle are more at risk for a heart attack because inactivity can contribute to obesity and high blood cholesterol levels, notes Mayo Clinic. Exercise can help lower high blood pressure, which is a significant risk factor for heart problems.